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Theatre tickets and rail tickets

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Surrey, Canada
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Theatre tickets and rail tickets

My daughter and I are visiting London for one week at the end of June. Normally I organize every minute of every trip but I'm procrastinating a bit on this one. I'd love to just take it day by day, but realize some things need to be done ahead of time. So I'd appreciate insight on the following:

1. Best online site for theatre tickets? I've checked Time Out London and they have great prices but the seats aren't as favourable as some of the others. any comments? any sites I should avoid?

2. Hop on - Hop off bus - is it worth it and which Company do I use?

3. We want to go to Oxford for a day. Should I book train tickets now or is this something simple to just go and buy when we are there. I just don't want to commit to a certain day if I don't have to.

4. Afternoon tea - is a reservation a must?

That's it... for now... appreciate all your help!

PS If you were to choose... Les Mis or Chicago?? tks!

Ottawa, ON
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1. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

I'll take a shot at your question 3. there is no need to buy train tickets in advance. There is also no need to take the train. There are two bus companies that compete for that business, with more frequent departures and a more convenient terminal in Oxford. Theae are the Oxford Tube and Oxford Espress.



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for Thirassia, Fira
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2. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

For theatre, I'd usually try and go direct to the Box Office (or their booking agents) - assuming Tkts don't have anything suitable for you.

Les Mis would be my pick out of the two.



However, if you want to see Christie Brinkley in Chicago, just wait until July 11 where she will be appearing for four weeks.


Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Personally neither, for me it would be Wicked, Priscilla or Billy Elliot. If you held a gun to my head though, I would opt for Chicago. I think Les Mis is well past its Sell By date. A bit bleak and miserable (get it?).

For full priced tickets I tend to go to http://www.seetickets.com/

For good bargains I use lastminute.com/site/entertainment/theatre/

For top price seats at a discount i've always had excellent seats, but you don't know where there are till you get to the theatre.

Don't forget the halfprice ticket booth in Leicester Square. To see what's on sale go to http://www.tkts.co.uk/whats-on-sale/

As for Afternoon Tea, I would imagine that it's always good to book ahead. I know at the RITZ it's good idea as they can be fully booked months in advance.



Olney, Maryland
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4. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Here is the deal on train tickets to Oxford: You can buy a return (round-trip) ticket on the day of travel, good for a return anytime within 1 months for £23.50 per person. If you buy a same day return, it's £21.50. You can look at the First Great Western Railway site:


All trains leave from Paddington, and Oxford Station is a 5 minutes walk from central Oxford. Some train tickets are cheaper but you have to know EXACTLY which train you are taking and buy the ticket at least a day in advance. So we should assume you will pay the £21.50 for a one-day return trip. The train runs every 1/2 hour or so and takes about 1 hour.

The two bus routes go through London on different routes, and each runs, incredibly, about every 10 minutes!! I have frequently taken the Oxford Tube bus from Notting Hill Gate, to avoid traffic through the main part of London.

The Oxford Espress is very similar and I'd suggest getting on a Baker St, again to avoid much of the central London traffic.It can take from 75-95 minutes depending on traffic. Either one costs £16 for a same/next day return, which is much less than the train if you can't pick specific trains in advance. Just know that whichever one you take, the returning part of the ticket has to be used on the same route, which is no big deal.

Both are very comfortable, and you can just give the driver cash. Both stop even closer to central Oxford, about a 2 minute walk (Gloucester Green Bus Station and also a stop on High Street).

Finally (and now we are getting into the weeds), you can also get on or off the buses at the Hillingdon Tube station which is not near the center of London at all, but if you expect to see a ton of traffic or are staying far north of Central London, it could be worth getting on or off at that stop, though I never have (no bus discount, and the Tube cost to there will be about 3 quid).

The two buses, to reiterate, are called Oxford Espress (not express), and Oxford Tube (which is also a bus). Just Google/Yahoo/Bing them and ask further questions here if necessary.

Edited: 10 June 2011, 16:28
Destination Expert
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5. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

I don't think we have talked about the HOHO buses yet so here goes:

There are two companies - Big Bus and Original London - and both are much of a muchness. The later seems to be fractionally cheaper but both offer unlimited travel for 24 hours from time of ticket sale. A short river cruise and a guided walk are also included in the price.

Afternoon tea reservations at the better hotels are a must. There have been plenty of threads on here discussing the matter but if there is one particular hotel or tea that interests you then please post again here or maybe start a fresh thread.

Oh and one more useful theatre website where you can see and read about the best and worst seats in any theatre - http://www.theatremonkey.com/index.html

Edited: 10 June 2011, 17:19
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6. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Trains to Oxford, almost uniquely in south-east England, offer very substantial discounts if booked ahead over walk up day returns. If you're lucky, advance tickets from London can be booked for as little as eight pounds return.

The main trains are both a great deal faster than the buses and more dependable:if you need to be back in London by a certain time, you often simply cannot do this getting a bus that has to cope with Oxford's westbound evening rush-hour.

There is no "best" option here: most of us alternate between the two, depending on a host of factors on the day concerned.

Manchester, United...
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7. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

thanks for the link to theatre monkey

i've just spent a few hours searching for a show to see when we come down

and i can't decide, any ideas anyone


Wellington, New...
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8. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Chicago or Les Mis? Les Mis at present because the English tenor Alfie Boe takes over in the cast as Jean Valjean in two few weeks. And Matt Lucas as Thenardier. It's a scaled down show from its days at the Palace but it has a beautiful sung-through score.

As Kennydon pointed out Chicago gets the American model/actress Christie Brinkley soon as Roxie. A last ditched attempt I think to get more people in to see it before making a decision whether to close as it has to shift homes before October to make way for Matilda later in the year. So, if you really want to see it, go now. I love Kander and Ebb's music and the Fosse choreography, but I think it's a show that has overstayed its welcome both here and on Broadway.

Otherwise, go see something fresher or new. Billy Elliot (for the kids amazing performances and because it makes a better musical than film even if the songs aren't that memorable), Betty Blue Eyes (because we should all support new British musicals and I wish I was there to do that) or Lend Me A Tenor (the Musical), which has only just opened.

To Lenny9: Theatremonkey.com can be overwhelming. What do you like? Musicals, plays? Something big and extravagant or something small. Something that kids and adults will like? Something with familiar music? With lots of music or some talking too? Hard to recommend when we are not sure of your taste. Give us some guidance, and we'll give you some ideas in return ;)

Detroit, Michigan
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9. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Just returned from 5 days in London...

We purchased theater tickets the day before (Monday for Tuesday) and the day of (Thursday) and had no problem at one of the half off ticket booths...one of which is in the information center adjacent to Trafalgar Square. We saw Billy Elliot and War Horse (the hottest play in town, which has only been in New York for one month). I'd recommend both for any age! And we had great seats both nights.

We enjoy museums and were duly impressed by the British Museum, Tate Modern and National Gallery. We took one hour tours and spent another hour roaming around...that's all we needed.

The Tower of London and its crown jewels is a must. We capped off that day with a "Jack the Ripper" walking tour.

We had major problems with the Big Red Bus Tour...and I'd consider it a big waste of money and time (we sat in traffic for hours not moving and the stops were too far apart...and often too far from the sites for good viewing) They also stop touring at 6pm. It seemed like for every one Big Red Bus passing, five Original Bus Tour buses would pass by and they toured later into the evening. So I cannot speak for that company. We generally walked and used the tube (which is very easy too navigate and speedy!).

So have a ball, we did!

Surrey, Canada
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10. Re: Theatre tickets and rail tickets

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. I must say, its all a little confusing from my perspective but will become quite clear once we are there.

I think for the theatre tickets I'll check out all the links you've all supplied and probably go with Chicago. Its the one my daughter wants to see most. We've already seen Wicked and Billy Elliott in other cities. War Horse sounds good too. We'll try the half-price ticket booths for other last minute selections.

I would love to see The Railway Children only because it was one of the first movies I ever saw and made me fall in love with England. So, that might be a possibility.

Otherwise, I did discover that London Walks does a one day guided trip to Cotswolds/Oxford and so I think we'll try that if the days work out. It sounds like a lovely way to add the Cotswolds in - I don't think we'd get there on our own. Otherwise, you've armed with enough info I should be able to figure it all out.

For the tea, I think we might just try the National Gallery. I am vegan and my daughter is vegetarian, so prob best to go somewhere not so fancy and be able to pick food that we can actually eat! It will be a challenge.

Now I'm busy trying to figure out the travelcard and all that fun stuff. There's lots written on it, so I think I'm understanding it better.

One last question for anyone still reading.... I've read that the Tube will be on strike for 4 days - 3 of which we'll be in London for. Is it going to be a gongshow trying to get around town? Best to walk as an alternative I'm thinking and plan our lengthy travel days around the strikes?

thanks everyone for your replies - much appreciated!!